A lot of claims are made for poetry. Poetry is made the vehicle for every memory, passion, ideal and value under the sun.

I've been one of the worst dabblers in that pursuit, I know. (I wrote, for example, about how poetry's special form of representation allies it with religious vision.) But today I'm focused on a notion of poetry's uniqueness, its separateness.

Poetry does something unique to words, shepherds them into its own aesthetic field. Poetry is essentially an art form, the art of language per se (as opposed to the "language" of visual art, or music, or film, etc.).

Aesthetic response - that is, response at least to some degree self-conscious - begins here, in the recognition of poetry's proper, independent sphere. All poetry, in a sense, creates its own world ex nihilo. When we approach it thus on its own terms, we can respond to what it does with the materials of the ordinary world which it absorbs and remakes - harmonizes into its special poetry-materials. And with this recognition, maybe we can moderate some of the magic thinking which sometimes asks too much of poetry (politically, spiritually, intellectually, etc.).

I guess all this is pretty elementary & obvious. As per.

But I like the idea of looking again & again at the most general, universal concepts about it. Because this is a way to make what is most ancient, foreign, and different, appear close and familiar. I guess this is an acmeist, a Mandelstamian idea (or proto-Mandelstamian), a Bergsonian notion - discovering anachronistic, cross-cultural affinities.

The sense of working in a timeless, universal medium, with long views & deep traditions - doesn't this affect how we speak verse, how we make lines? Where we try to stand in this playground?

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